Medical people are saying we should limit the people we come into close contact with, because the main way we will catch the coronavirus is if someone coughs, sneezes or accidentally spits on us.

This does not mean you have to stay home and not contact anyone. It means to avoid large gatherings and stay six feet away from others when going out for groceries, medical trips and other essential needs. Easy peasy, right?

This involves stepping off trails and sidewalks to allow six feet between other people when passing them.

You should also go out less often, shop at less busy times, and walk in your neighbourhood or park while maintaining distance from others. And, avoid crowding into enclosed spaces, like elevators. Okay, I can do that.

Of course, wash or sanitize your hands lots, especially after touching surfaces that others touch. Remember, the virus can live up to three days on hard shiny surfaces like plastic and stainless steel and 24 hours on cardboard, according to a study by the University of California – Los Angeles. Not cool.

Everyone has been calling this “social distancing”, because that’s what public health and epidemiology officials say. But social distancing seems to be the wrong name for this. Say what?

Yup, it appears we should be saying “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.”
Think about it. Connection to others is our greatest need. Yet, the words social distancing implies that we should pull away from people, be more individual, and not even connect with others. Whoa.

Some people think “social distancing” means “I have to stay away from my friends and stay at home by myself.” Or, “I can’t go to church, so I need to pray by myself.” Yet, we need to feel connected.

So, that means stay six feet away from people, but text, phone, Facetime, or message friends and family. Very important.

Yes indeed, Indigenous people have historically been a collective society. We have community hunts, feasts, drum dances and other events. And most of us have large extended families, so everywhere we go we say “cousin.” Eschia, take it easy eh.
So, to survive and emotionally support ourselves through this coronavirus problem we must stay in touch with each other. Things will be better for us if we have a neighbor, a friend or family member to talk to regularly.

Yep, yep, yep, clearly, we need to practice physical distancing, meaning stay six feet away from Joe Blow, not social distancing, which implies stay away and don’t communicate with Joe Blow at all.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently began using the term “physical distancing.”

“We’re changing to say, ‘physical distance’ and that’s on purpose because we want people to remain connected,” WHO representatives said on March 20. They verified that it’s important to look after your mental health to help you fight COVID if you get it.

The WHO said, “it’s normal to feel stressed, confused and scared during a crisis. Talking to people you know and trust can help. Supporting other people in your community can help you as much as it does them.” Right on.

They stressed we should check on our neighbours, family and friends because compassion is a medicine. We should also listen to music, read books or play games.

A very important thing is do not read or watch too much news if it makes you anxious. Instead, get your information from reliable sources once or twice a day.

So, stay six feet away from people and stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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